Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tore into each other at a charity dinner hosted by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, a dinner that has provided comic relief in the past but one that instead solicited “boos” and “ahhs,” highlighting the tense mood this election cycle.
The dinner, which is named after the New York governor who in 1928 became the first Catholic nominee for president, raised more than $ 6 million for charity, a record. A charitable foundation was launched in 1946 and has hosted opposing candidates to gather to trade jokes during intense campaigns.
Al Smith IV teased both of the candidates, joking about how Donald Trump asked how Hillary Clinton was feeling before dinner. “She said, ‘I’m fine,’” Smith said, imitating Clinton, “now get out of the ladies’ dressing room.”
Here were some of the most memorable lines from the candidates:
From Donald Trump:
“I recognize I come into this event with a little bit of an advantage. I know so many of you in the archdiocese already have a place in your heart for a guy who started out as a carpenter working for his father. I was a carpenter working for my father. True.”
“We have proven that we can actually be civil to each other. In fact, Hillary … accidentally bumped into me and she very civilly said, ‘Pardon me,’” Trump said to laughter. “And I very politely replied, let me talk to you about that after I get into office.”
“Last night, I called Hillary ‘a nasty woman.’ But this stuff is all relative. After listening to Hillary rattle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Donnell anymore. In fact, I’m actually starting to like Rosie a lot.”
He joked about his wife’s speech at the Republican National Convention that lifted lines from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. “My wife Melania gives the exact same speech and people get on her case, and I don’t get it! I don’t know why. And it wasn’t her fault,” he said, to much laughter. He then had her stand. “Oh I’m in trouble when I go home tonight. She didn’t know about that one. Am I okay? Is it okay? Cardinal, please speak to her.”
“I’d like to address an important religious matter. The issue of going to confession. Or as Hillary Clinton calls it, the Fourth of July weekend with FBI Director Comey. Now I’m told Hillary went to confession before tonight’s event, but the priest was having a hard time when he asked her about her sins, and she said she couldn’t remember 39 times.”
“Hillary is so corrupt,” Trump said, as the crowd began booing loudly, “she got kicked off the Watergate Commission. How corrupt do you have to be to get kicked off the Watergate Commission?”
Trump hinted at emails that were leaked where a campaign staffer appears to be joking about Catholics. “We’ve learned so much from WikiLeaks. For example, Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private. … For example, here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.”
Trump ended by saying he had great memories of coming to the Al Smith dinner with his father. “We can also agree on the need to stand up to anti-Catholic bias, to defend religious liberty, and to create a culture that celebrates life.”
“You were criticized for inviting both Donald and me here tonight. You responded by saying, ‘If I only sat down with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.’ Just to be clear, I think the cardinal is saying I’m not eligible for sainthood. But getting through these first three debates with Donald has to count as a miracle. So I guess I’m up against the highest, hardest stained glass ceiling.”
“I’ve gotta say. there are lot of friendly faces in this room. … I just want to put you all in a basket of adorables.”
“It’s amazing I’m up here after Donald. I didn’t think he’d be okay with a peaceful transition of power.”
“People look at the Statute of Liberty and they see a proud symbol of our history of immigrants … Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a four, maybe a five if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair. Come to think of it, you know what would be a good number for a woman — 45.”
“Donald wanted me drug tested before last night’s debate. Look I got to tell you, I am so flattered Donald thought I used some sort of performance enhancer. I did. It’s called preparation.”
“If Donald does win, it’ll be awkward at the annual president’s day photo when all the presidents gather at the White House, and not just with Bill. How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?”
Clinton referenced their health records. “Donald really is as healthy as a horse. You know the one Putin rides around on.”
“Let’s come together, remember what unites us and just rip on Ted Cruz.”
During the more serious portion of her address, Clinton talked about the similarities between the Catholic and her Methodist faith, referencing the Golden Rule “to love our neighbor as ourself.” “I believe how we treat others is the highest expression of faith and service.”
“One of the things that we share is the belief that in order to achieve our salvation, we need both faith and good works,” she said.
She praised Pope Francis and noted her running mate Tim Kaine’s Jesuit education.
Concluding the dinner, Cardinal Dolan, who had sat between the two candidates, said he had been sitting in “probably the iciest place on the planet. Where’s global warming when you need it?”